Valentines Day Non-Sports Style
By Kurt Kuersteiner (© 2000 Monsterwax Monster Trading Cards) for The Wrapper Magazine
Most collectors experienced V.D. at a young age. (For those of you with dirty minds, V.D. is Valentine's Day.) I don't remember it very much, except one time when my mother bought me some monster Valentines to give classmates. I recall I liked them so much that I didn't want to give them away. (I know it was selfish, but I wish I had kept a few because they were pretty darn cool! I've never seen the same ones since.)
Like many things today, they just don't make them as well as they did in the past. Everything seems to cost more and deliver less. So I was shocked when I recently encountered the incredible assortment of really nice Valentines at various food and drug stores. These cards not only look neat, they're cheap and include all sorts of collectible titles. Topics like dinosaurs, Star Wars, monsters, comic book heroes and much, much more. There is such a variety it would be difficult to collect them all, but if you collect similar subjects in non-sports cards, you'll want to know about the Valentine versions as possible additions to your collection.
All these cards go well in plastic pages. Most fit 6 pocket sleeves, while others fit conventional 9 pocket sleeves and a few require 4 pocket pages. Some Valentines are actually stickers! Each box contains several complete sets and none of the boxes cost over $3.
The first set I saw is still my favorite: Universal Studio Monsters by Paper Magic Group. Cecil Duncan first alerted me about these and told me to check out the local Target Store. It was well worth the trip. These are very colorful and look great in 6 pocket sleeves. There are 30 per box (10 different designs) each one measuring 4" x 2 1/4". The paper is flimsy and there is nothing on the back, but what do you expect for $1.39 per box? Incredible!
While there, I also picked up some Dinosaur Valentines. These were also by Paper Magic Group, and followed the same formula (30 total with 10 different designs and the same measurements). However, these are Holographic Valentines for $2.97. (They look more "prismatic" than "holographic" in my humble opinion, but the shimmering effect does catch your eye.) The pictures are computer generated and feature the usual assortment of famous dinos: T-rex, Triceratops, Pterodactyl... and six others. The backs are full of dinosaur trivia.
There were also two Lost World Jurassic Park sets available. The one from Cleo featured 32 cards (8 different designs). Twenty-eight of which were 2 9/16" x 5" and four that were 3 13/16" x 5. The graphics featured the stars of the movie, and by that, I don't mean the humans. Only two of the designs are artist renderings. The backs have "fun activities" (puzzles and such). It also has 48 mini-stickers (twenty different designs) that are 13/16" in size. All for $1.39.
Mello Smello's set has 32 stickers of 8 different designs (2 10/16 x 3 1/4"). Each sticker has a dino photo within a die-cut heart, plus five other mini-stickers on the same card (in the margins). There's a cardboard "tote box" included, plus two cut out "teacher cards" on the back. The cost is $2.29.
For the most part, Paper Magic Group, Cleo, and Mello Smello followed these three basic formulas in card size and number of different images in all their products. But their are some exceptions worth pointing out:
The most notable exceptions are the "Deluxe" sets by Paper Magic Group. The Star Wars set is a typical a example. You can get the "regular" set of 30 valentines with 10 different designs for $1.47, or you can get the "holographic" version of the same set with prismatic foil for twice the price. (Each features 4 x 2 1/4" stand-up valentines.) But if you really want to become a Jedi Master, you must force yourself to buy both sets plus the Deluxe version.
Here's what the Deluxe set has: 40 stand-up cards, 45 stickers, a window cling decal of a Tie fighter, and a 3D Diorama display (which provides a pilot's view from a rebel space craft). There are 15 different sticker designs, each measures 1 x 1 5/16".
The Deluxe stand-ups are the same 10 designs as the other two sets, but measure slightly larger (4 1/2 x 2 1/2"). Photos of several stars are featured, including Ben, Luke, Han, C3PO, R2D2, Vader, Chewy, Leia, and even Jabba the Hutt! (Jabba is a large fat slug creature that reminds many folks of Rush Limbaugh -or Madeleine Albright- depending on your party affiliation.) All this for just $2.49. (That's the price of a single pack of Star Wars Finest! )
If you like comic book characters, check out some of these sets:
10 different X-men (30 total) by Cleo. It includes Wolverine, Storm, Beast, Jubilee, Jean Grey, Cyclops, Gambit, Rogue, Bishop and Professor X. Not bad for $1.99. Paper Magic Group offers 7 different X-men (including Jubilee, Gambit, Wolverine, etc.) plus 3 cut out cards, a total of 42 for $1.99.
8 different Batman & Robin by Cleo (32 total). Includes Batman, Robin, Batgirl, and Mr. Freeze, all rendered in a comic book style. If you want the Animated Cartoon style, Mello Smello offers a deluxe set which includes Batman, Robin, Penguin, Catwoman, Joker, and The Riddler for $2.49. It also includes 36 sticker seals and the nefarious tote box. You can also get the latest movie version, complete with Batman, Robin, Batgirl, Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy from Gibson Valentines. There's 8 different, 32 total for $2.50. Gibson also offers another version of the Batman Animated cartoon characters. It has 8 different designs and two different cut out cards for a total of 34. My grocery store offered both at half price. (I wish they would do that with the beef!)
Superman fans have two sets to choose from, both in the same style as the Batman Animated series. Cleo offers 8 different, 40 total for $2.49. (These are basically Superman but one card features four super villains.) Gibson also offers 32 (8 different) for the same price (before the 50% discount).
Any Charlie Brown fans out there? Ambassador cards offers 30 Peanuts cards (5 different designs) for $2.29. It includes Charlie, Sally, Schroeder, Snoopy and Woodstock. Ambassador cards generally measure 2 3/4 x 4".
Remember Dr. Seuss? Ambassador did. Their set included The Cat in the Hat, Fox & Knox, Thidwick & Whoozit, The Grinch & Megan, and Horton with Morton.
Ambassador also offer Winnie the Pooh. Its 5 designs include Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, and Rabbit. Cleo offers another version with 8 designs, including Pooh, Piglet & Tigger (32 total).
Disney Collectors have even more of a selection to choose from. 10 different Micky Mouse & Mini Mouse by Paper Magic Group. (It's available in regular or Holographic form.) 8 different Hercules (by Cleo) including Hercules, the girl, and Pegasus. The same company offers Aladdin, featuring Aladdin, the Jasmine, Genie and the monkey.
There are 8 different Sleeping Beauty cards by Cleo (a total of 32). Unfortunately, the witch and dwarfs are not included. Cleo also leaves out the ferry god mother and evil step sisters from their Cinderella set. Instead, you get 8 different shots of Cinderella, the prince, the mouse and some birds. I was bummed, but then again, I have a "thing" for witches and bad girl types. (I won't get into the dwarfs.)
Mello Smello offers 8 different 101 Dalmatians (30 sticker cards plus two cut-out teacher cards and a tote box). They do the same thing (but with 10 different designs) for The Little Mermaid and Toy Story. Since all these sets use the same style art as the original movies, this means Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Little Bo Peep, Mr. Potato Head, the dog, dinosaur and Martians are all computer generated.
Ambassador also offers their own version of 101 Dalmatians and The Little Mermaid, but with 5 different designs and a cut out teacher card.
Cleo offers a deluxe version of The Little Mermaid. There's 8 different (40 total) with a tote box. The Characters include Sebastian, Ariel, and Flounder.
Paper Magic Group offers a $2.50 deluxe set of the 20th Century Fox animated movie, Anastasia. It includes 10 different (40 total) cards and stickers, plus a window cling and 3-D diorama. They also offer a cheaper version of 30 cards with the same designs for $1 less. Gibson Valentines offers yet another version of the same movie.
If you're a Warner Brother's fan, you'll be interested in 32 Looney Tunes Valentines by Cleo. The 8 different designs include Buggs, Daffy, Sylvester & Tweety, Porky, Tasmanian Devil, Monsieur Le' Pew, and whatever that Martian character with the Trojan broom brush cap is called. Cleo also offers a set devoted to "Taz" (the Tasmanian Devil). Not to be outdone, Paper Magic Group offers 10 different (30 total) of Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs (which includes Pinky and the Brain).
Cleo offers a cross-over set of cartoons and sports with Space Jam cards. The 6 designs include Michael Jordan, Bugs Bunny and his cartoon companions.
There's also some cartoons I've never watched before, like The Pirates of Dark Water (by Cleo), Street Sharks (Paper Magic Group), Sky Dancers (also PMG) and Land Before Time (Mello Smello). Then there's a couple shows that I've seen, but wish I had not. Top of this list is the mind numbing Barney The Dinosaur (Mello Smello) and the stomach churning Bananas & Pajamas (American Greetings).
Some other titles that may be of interest include: Barbie! (The Mello Smello version is artwork of Barbie by herself, while the Ambassador version is made up of photos and includes her boy toy, Ken.) Saban's Power Rangers Turbo by Mello Smello (a sticker set composed of comic art). NFL Quarter Back Club and Nascar Valentines (both are by Cleo and made up of photos)
This list is by no means complete. Time, space, and your patience prevent me from itemizing everything (thank God). But clearly, if a subject sells well among card collectors, the odds are good that it also exists in Valentine form. They're fun, cheap, and easy to complete. Check out the discount bins and see what's on sale now or wait until next Valentine's day to find what they have then. Remember, it's never to late to enjoy V.D!
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